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ھزاروں سال نرگس اپنی بے نوری پہ روتی ہے

بڑی مشکل سے هوتا ہے چمن ميں ديداور پيدا

Hazaron saal nargis apni benoori pe roti hai
Bari mushkil se huta hai chaman mein Deedawar paida.      Iqbal

For thousand years, narcissus laments over its lack of sight (gloom, ignorance, loss),
After great difficulties, a seer is born in the flower garden (society, era, time).

Allama Iqbal is one of the seers of our age. Through his thought and poetry, he brought the present and the past together and showed, especially to the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent, dreams of an inspired future. Iqbal deciphered the cultures of the east and the west, ancient and modern, spiritual and secular and redefined many concepts for the personality of the individuals as well as the character of the societies. There are four important terms, expressed in words that start with the letter ع (Ain), that make a central theme in Allama Iqbal’s poetry. These four terms:  عشق ٫ عقل ٫ علم  and عمل , I would like to refer to them as four “Ains”.  Allama Iqbal explained the meanings and significance of علم (Ilm, knowledge)  عقل (Aql, intellect) عشق (Ishq, love – only an aspect of Ishq) and  عمل (Amal, action or deed) in the context of human personality and developed the idea of selfhood (Khudi). All this was inspired by Iqbal’s understanding of the Quran and his love of Islam. { More on these topics in subsequent posts on this blog}.

Allama Iqbal’s realm of thought falls in the reformation of humanity. If we look at the history of the past two millennia, we see Jesus (p* 7-2BC to 30-36AD), Muhammad (p* 570AD to 632AD), Rumi (r* 1207AD to 1273AD) and Iqbal (r* 1877 to 1938AD) – as the reformers of humanity, and separated in time by about 600 years from each other. Rumi and Iqbal are not prophets but are blessed souls and inspired by God for carrying out the mission of human reformation. Iqbal happily becomes a disciple of Rumi and dresses Rumi’s Persian poetry with modern interpretations. Another like Iqbal may not come for at least half a millennium and Urdu is unlikely to be his tongue of expression.

Iqbal’s poetry, large volumes in Urdu and Persian languages are extraordinary – and unfortunately somewhat difficult to read and understand. The purpose of this blog is to make Iqbal accessible to the young generation and try to restore the true spirit of Islam, its culture and human personality consistent with our times.

It is my hope that we can take Allama Iqbal’s poetry and thought as the basis for us to come together and strive to understand the message and apply in the reconstruction of our models of religion, individual, society, and culture. In my humble opinion, this may be the only avenue and the chance we have to impact this world so that the Muslims are not merely the evidence of Tauhid for posterity  but a real force to change the culture of this world for the better.

نوا پيرا هو اے بلبل کہ هو تيرے ترنم سے

کبوتر کے تنِ نازک ميں شاهيں کا جگر پيدا

Nawa para ho ae bulbul keh ho tere taranum se
Kabootar ke tane nazuk mein shaheen ka jigar paida.      Iqbal

Sing a song O’nightingale so that from your melody,
The feeble body of the pigeon may acquire the heart (spirit) of an eagle.

[p* - peace be upon him. , r* - God’s mercy be upon him.]

Nazir Ahmad Ph.D.

The Sign of Alive Nations

Special Verses by Allama Iqbal:

نشاں یہی ہے زمانے میں زندہ قوموں کا
کہ صبح و شام بدلتی ہیں ان کی تقدیریں

کمالِ صِدق و مروّت  ہے  زندگی  ان  کی
معاف کرتی ہے فطرت بھی ان کی تقصیریں

This is the sign of alive nations in this world,
That their destinies change in the mornings and evenings (i.e. Continuously)
Their life is excellence in truth, sincerity and veracity (صد ق)  and affection, humanity, generosity, politeness and kindness (مروت).
Even nature forgives their mistakes.
(As natural laws of “cause and effect” generally operate mercilessly).
This  صِدق و مروّت  is an aspect of Ishq (عشق), the most favorite topic of Allama Iqbal’s poetry, that the entire world needs most during these times. Every one seems to be suffering from  فريبِ سود و زياں   .
The Full poem from Armagan-e-Hijaz is as follows:

نشاں یہی ہے زمانے میں زندہ قوموں کا
کہ صبح و شام بدلتی ہیں ان کی تقدیریں
کمالِ صِدق و مروّت ہے زندگی ان کی
معاف کرتی ہے فطرت بھی ان کی تقصیریں
قلندرانہ ادائیں ، سکندرانہ جلال
یہ امّتیں ہیں جہان میں برہنہ شمشیریں
خودی سے مردِ خود آگاہ کا جمال و جلال
کہ یہ کتاب ہے باقی تمام تفسیریں
شکوہِ عید کا منکر نہیں ہوں میں لیکن
قبول ِ حق ہیں فقط مردِ حر کی تکبیریں
حکیم میری نواؤں کا راز کیا جانے
ورائے عقل ہیں اہلِ جنوں کی تدبیریں​


Nazir Ahmad, Ph.D.

God’s Attributes and Iqbal’s Idea of Khudi

What does Wahdat mean? Is it not the same as Oneness, an attribute of God?
Wahdat- ul- Wajud means, in my mind, Oneness of Being or Existence. Put simply, whatever Exists is God. Pantheism is the same concept. However, when I read the Quran and try to understand the meanings, God is clearly distinct from His creation. Whatever exists (universe and nature in its entirety) is God cannot be correct as it leads to shirk (the cardinal sin of setting partners with God). Oneness of being or existence is correctly understood as God being the only Reality and the perceived existence, the universe and nature, are the shadow of God. The shadow has no reality. There seems to be a need for looking at the truth of this idea in the light of new cosmology.
Wahdat-ul-Shahud means Oneness of Manifestation or simply that every thing is a sign pointing to the existence of ONE God. The Quran makes an excellent argument about The One Creator God. God’s attributes are described in the Quran, we can recognize them in our psychology, observe them in other humans and God’s creations, and these attributes are recommended for us to be acquired in a Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH). This is the purpose of our being, to acquire as much from the Infinite Source (i.e. God) and make it a part of our life.
This is the idea of selfhood (khudi of humans), that relates to the Ultimate Self  (Khudi of God). This is how the finite acquires Infinite potential and possibilities and the methods are explained by the life of our Prophet (PBUH). Iqbal in Marde Musalman /Zerb e Kalim says:

قہّاری  و  غفّاری  و  قدّوسی  و جبروت
يہ  چار  عناصر  ہوں  تو  بنتا  ہے  مسلمان

Qhhari o Ghaffari o Quddoosi o Jabroot
Yeh char anasar hoon to banta hai musilman
Power to subdue, compassion and grace to forgive, moral character to remain pure, and  irresistible to compel,
These four are some of the elements that make a Muslim.
On seeing God, there is a beautiful poem in Armagan e Hijaz called Tasveer o Musawwer. In this dialogue  the Tasveer (Human)  wants to see the Musawwer (God), and the Musawwer finally says to the Tasveer:

تو  ہے    ميرے  کمالاتِ  ہُنر  سے
نہ  ہو  نوميد  اپنے  نقش  گر  سے
مرے  ديدار  کی ہے  اک  يہی  شرط
کہ  تو  پنہاں  نہ  ہو  اپنی  نظر  سے

Tu hai mere kamalate hunar say
Nah ho numeed apne naqsh ger say
Mere dedar ki hai aik yahi shert
Kek tu pinhan nah ho apni nazar say

You are from the excellence of My art,
Do not be disappointed in your Maker.
There is only one condition for My Sight,
That you do not hide from your own sight*.

*That means keep an eye on yourself or remain self-aware. Self-awareness is an essential aspect of selfhood – Iqbal’s Idea of Khudi.

More later……

Nazir Ahmad Ph.D.


On Love, Lust and Ishq

حديثِ  عشق  بہ  اہلِ  ہوس  چہ  ميگوئ
بچشمِ  مور  مکش  سُرمہ  سليمانی

What are you saying to the lustful about the tradition of Ishq?
Do not rub the collyrium of Suleiman on the eye of an ant.

Ishq is one of the major themes in the poetry of Allama Iqbal (RA).  Ishq can be translated as Love which, in my view, is a limited aspect of Ishq. Loving as we experience with respect to our families, people, country etc. is just like playing in small streams. This is the sampling taste of Ishq. Ishq, in its full scope, covers God, all His Creations, the entirety of time and space, and all the best aspects of our human behavior. Wherever we are on the path of Ishq, we got to keep evolving and keep on marching; remembering that all of the small streams end up in the Ocean. Aqal (another major theme of Allama Iqbal (RA) ) can make us justify hawas (lust, greed).  This verse makes a similar  point:
عقل  عيار  ہے  سو  بھيس  بنا  ليتی  ہے
عشق  بيچاره  نہ مُلا  ہے  نہ زاھد  نہ  حکيم

Aqal is cunning, it can change into hundred garbs,
Poor Ishq is not a Mulla, not a devotee, not a Sage.

I want to finish with a beautiful Du’a:

قوتِ  عشق  سے  ہر  پست  کو  بالا  کر دے
دھر  ميں  اسمِ محمدؐ  سے اُجالا  کر  دے

With the power of Ishq, elevate everyone who is low,
Illuminate this world, with the name of Muhammad (PBUH)

Nazir Ahmad, Ph.D.

(Armaghan-e-Hijaz-LAST NAZAM)

The Human Being

Jahan Mein Danish-O-Beenish Ki Hai Kis Darja Arzani
Koi Shay Chup Nahin Sakti K Ye Alam Hai Noorani

In this world, knowledge and observation are so cheap in rank!

Nothing can remain hidden, as this creation is luminous.

Koi Dekhe To Hai Bareek Fitrat Ka Hijab Itna
Numayan Hain Farishton Ke Tabassum Haye Pinhani

If someone cares to see, the veil of nature is so thin,
Evident are the hidden smiles of angels.

Ye Duniya Dawat-E-Didar Hai Farzand-E-Adam Ko
Ke Har Mastoor Ko Bakhsha Gya Hai Zauq-E-Uryani

This world is an invitation to the son of Adam for looking,
For every hidden entity is blessed with the joy (desire) to manifest (itself).


Ye Farzand-E-Adam Hai K Jis Ke Askh-E-Khooni Se
Kiya Hai Hazrat-E-Yazdan Ne Daryaon Ko Toofan

This is the son of Adam with whose bloody (anguish filled) tears,
That God has made the rivers stormy

Falak Ko Kya Khabar Ye Khaakdaan Kis Ka Nasheeman Hai
Gharz Anjum Se Hai Kis Ke Shabistan Ki Nighebani

What do the heavens know whose abode is this earthenware,
Whose night’s watch is the purpose of the stars.

Agar Maqsood-E-Kul Main Hun To Mujh Se Mawara Kya Hai
Mere Hungama Ha’ay Nau Ban Nau Ki Intiha Kya Hai?

If I am the ultimate aim of all this (creation), then what is beyond me?

   What is the ultimate end of my ever new tumultuous assemblies?


String of Pearls – Allama Iqbal

Sultani and Shatani

Allama Iqbal’s poetry, 7k verses in Persian and 5K verses in Urdu, are not only rhyming word arrays, but are also strings of ideas and concepts making ornaments to be worn by the men and women of purpose. Using these ideas to better individuals and societies has been the purpose of Iqbal. That is why he considers himself and the poets like Rumi as the inheritors of the prophets.  Iqbal said, “Nations are born in the hearts of poets, they prosper and die in the hands of politicians”.  One of the beautiful string of pearls from Armagan-e-Hijaz (a Persian book of poetry by Iqbal, published in 1938 after his death, book title translated as Gift from Hijaz – the region in Saudi Arabia including Mecca and Medina), reads:

مسلماں فقر و سُلتانی بہم  کر د
ضميرش باقی وفانی بہم کرد
وليکن الّماں از عصرِ حاضر
کہ سُلتانی بہ شيطانی بہم کرد

Musilman faqr o sultani baham kard
Zamirush baqi o fani baham kard
Wa Lakin Allaman az asre hazer
Keh sultani beh shatani baham kard
The Muslims (of the Prophet’s and Companion’s era) combined faqr (Dervish attitude, contentment without the worldly trappings) and sultani (royal, governance),
His (Muslim’s) conscience (heart, reflection, idea) combined this world and the hereafter.
But, God save us from the present age,
That  combined sultani (royal, governance) with shatani (wickedness, lies and exploitation).

Nazir Ahmad, Ph.D.